Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"F" Words

It's true confession time. For the past week I have been skating FFFFFreestyle.

I hate to say it publicly in a forum read by my ice dancing peers, but I just have to. It is so much FFFFFun, and I am just so amazed I can still do some of this stuff after 30 years, give or take. They say that as you age you should do something every day which scares you (in order to keep your brain "young") and while Tango Romantica qualifies as scary, this pushes it just a bit past that point. If healthy FFFFFear keeps you young, I may just live forever.

Now for some reminiscing (skip this paragraph if you bore easily). My parents would not let me compete as a kid and as a non-competitor back in the '70's no coach really wanted to work with you very much. Add to that the fact that I sucked at figures (I was nearsighted and 90 lbs., and just couldn't see my tracings at all) and I was the kid who got a lesson if the coach had some free time. Maybe. So there were a lot of things that slipped through the cracks and didn't get taught, such as back spins, which would have been oh-so-helpful. I never learned one, although I did learn a flying camel and sit change sit. And as I recall, jump technique was taught by repeatedly yelling "jump UP and pull IN!!" It's a wonder I was able to do double jumps at all.

Last Tuesday I was warming up for my MITF lesson when I saw my coach (who is my age) doing loop jumps. Something clicked in my brain and I said whoa, why not. So when she came over to work on my Brackets and Rockers, I told her I wanted to work on JUMPS. She was a bit surprised, but even more surprised were the kids, parents and others who have until now only seen me do ice dancing. We ran through all of the single jumps and some combos, and then some spins (oh my, a layback in short blades is really quite a trip!) I was shocked that these things were all still in my muscle memory bank and while they weren't stellar, I could do them, sort of.

Nowadays I weigh a lot more than 90 lbs. and my jumping muscles are certainly not in any kind of shape. They scream at me each day after I work on freestyle, but it's a good kind of pain. And my coach actually cares about my skating even though I don't compete, and she gives me actual technique pointers (e.g., leave the left side back, get your weight over your skating side, put your free leg HERE) and exercises to work on. If I follow her advice, I see actual improvement. Her amazed comment during my second freestyle lesson last night - while warming up for axels -- was, "you have no fear, that's good."

(Well, if she only knew --- but I'm not going to tell her.)

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